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Elisabeth Goergl, world champion Alpine skier, retires with age record

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VIENNA (AP) — Austrian skier Elisabeth Goergl retired Monday, 2½ years after becoming the oldest woman to win a World Cup race.

A two-time world champion and two-time Olympic bronze medalist, the 36-year-old Goergl said she lacked motivation to prepare for the Olympic season.

“Many fans have asked me to continue for another year but I want to develop in another direction,” she said. “If I had still felt a spark, I would not have retired now.”

Goergl has started an education to become a ski coach, and she has just released a CD with her own songs.

Her career highlight came in 2011, when the Austrian upset favorites Lindsey Vonn and Maria Hoefl-Riesch twice to win the downhill and super-G gold medals at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

“That was my biggest and nicest achievement, for sure,” said Goergl, who had performed the song “You’re a Hero” live on stage during the opening ceremony of the worlds.

“To win the super-G the following day was very special. And winning the downhill was the icing on the cake. Double world champion sounded great.”

During 17 seasons, Goergl won five medals at major championships and competed in 378 World Cup races, winning seven of them. She was 33 years, 301 days when she last won a race, a super-G in Val d’Isere, France, in December 2014.

Goergl is also the oldest winner of a downhill. She was 32 years, 11 months when she triumphed in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in January 2014. However, she will lose that record to Vonn if the American wins a downhill next season.

Her announcement Monday was no surprise. In January, after failing to make the Austrian team for the world championships in St. Moritz, she said she would consider retirement, even with an Olympic season coming up.

“I have taken a lot of time to think about it,” said Goergl, who won the overall title of the lower-tier Europa Cup in 2003. “Since I was 10, I have been chasing my goal to become a ski racer with huge passion. I never gave up and I always found new motivation.”

Goergl stems from a ski-mad family. Her mother, Traudi Hecher, won Olympic downhill bronze in 1960 and ’64. And her older brother, Stephan Goergl, competed on the men’s World Cup from 2001-12.

“The Goergl family has contributed massively to the ski sports in Austria,” said Hans Pum, sports director of the Austrian ski federation.

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Lindsey Vonn racing men ‘a very difficult topic,’ Alpine boss says

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If Lindsey Vonn will be allowed to enter a men’s race, then men must be allowed to ski with women, an International Ski Federation (FIS) official said.

FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal said Vonn’s latest bid to enter a men’s World Cup race in November 2018 will be discussed further in October.

“It will be a very difficult challenge to find a reasonable way of doing this because one point that everyone is underestimating is that we need to have equal rights for everyone,” Skaardal said in a Sunday press release. “So if the ladies are allowed to race with the men, then also the men need to be authorized to ski with the ladies, and I’m not sure this is a direction we want to go.”

Vonn previously requested in 2012 to be able to race against men, but that was denied by FIS. The federation said then “that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other.”

Skaardal said FIS officials talked about Vonn’s continued lobbying in May meetings. FIS will see in October if the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will bring a concrete proposal to make Vonn’s bid fit into rules.

“All the men say, ‘We don’t think she’s going to beat us,’ which is what they’re going to say, and also that, ‘It will be great for our sport,'” Vonn said earlier this year, according to The Associated Press. “So, what’s the harm?”

Vonn has said she plans to retire after the 2018-19 season. Racing men is one of three remaining career goals, after earning a 2018 Olympic medal and notching 10 more World Cup victories to break the career record.

“I know I’m not going to win, but I would like to at least have the opportunity to try [racing men],” Vonn said, according to the Denver Post in January. “I think I’ve won enough World Cups where I should have enough respect within the industry to be able to have that opportunity.”

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Alpine skiing considers cutting discipline from World Cup

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The super combined might no longer be on the World Cup Alpine skiing schedule come the 2020-21 season.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) confirmed Monday that it discussed a draft schedule for the 2020-21 World Cup season with zero super combined races.

Instead, there would be more parallel races, the head-to-head discipline that is also used in a team format at the world championships and, beginning in 2018, the Olympics.

No final decision was made on the 2020-21 World Cup schedule, and it will be discussed again in October.

The Olympics and world championships also currently include the combined event. FIS didn’t say if removing it from the World Cup could lead to its removal from the Olympics or world championships, though Austrian media reported it would be taken off the worlds schedule after 2019.

The combined is made up of one downhill or super-G run and one slalom run to determine the skiers who best balance technical ability and speed.

The combined has featured some less-heralded winners in recent years. The days of many star skiers contending in all five disciplines (downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined) are gone as specialists reign.

This past season, the men’s world super combined champion, Swiss Luca Aerni, had zero World Cup podiums to his name. The 2014 Olympic men’s super combined winner, Swiss Sandro Viletta, made one World Cup podium in his career.

The combined was actually the first Olympic Alpine skiing event, the only Alpine race at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games. It was taken off the Olympic program after two editions, however, and didn’t return until Calgary 1988.

The combined switched from one downhill and two slalom runs to one downhill and one slalom run for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

The super combined has been the best event for U.S. skiers among the last four Olympics — Bode Miller‘s silver in 2002, Ted Ligety‘s gold in 2006, Miller’s gold and Julia Mancuso‘s silver in 2010 and Mancuso’s bronze in 2014.

Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the medal contenders for the 2018 Olympic combined, given she is the world’s best slalom skier and has made gains in speed races in recent seasons. She won the last combined event on the World Cup this past season.

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